SCOUT REPORT: BIRMINGHAM CITY
After achieving nine points from nine over the festive period, City will be looking to start the New Year as they ended the last when they travel to St. Andrew's.
City will once again be looking to consolidate their position at the top of the Championship when they play Birmingham City on New Year's Day. Cardiff are unbeaten in their last four away trips and will be confident of picking up their first away win at Birmingham since 1966. Many people may haveLee Clark’smen to be in and around the promotion battle this term, but things haven't been going their way to date.
Birmingham currently lie in twentieth position in the Championship table. Despite being only two places above the drop zone, they have a cushion of seven points between them and twenty-second placed Bristol City. But with the competitive nature of the Championship, two wins could see them rise as high as ninth - they could still have a part to play in the push for the Play-Offs come May.
The Blues’ recent form has seen a mixed bag of results - their last six games have resulted in two wins, two draws and two defeats. They picked up an impressive win against high flyers Middlesbrough where they had to come back from behind twice, though at the other end of the scale they lost a lead to lose 3-1 at Bolton and also were defeated 1-0 by Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Birmingham have lost six games at home so far this season and have only recorded three wins. They have had as many defeats in the league as they did for the whole of last season and have conceded twenty-two goals in their thirteen matches while scoring just seventeen. Their task has been made even more difficult when facing table topping Cardiff on Tuesday with their two top scorersMarlon King(twelve goals) andNikola Zigic(five goals) out injured and suspended respectively.
Key Players:. He has represented England at every age group and was the youngest goalkeeper to get a senior international cap when he made his debut earlier this year. He was also the starting goalkeeper for the Great Britain Olympic team. He has featured in every league game for Birmingham this term and could prove extremely important if Birmingham want to get anything out of the game against free scoring Cardiff City.Jack ButlandBirmingham do have some big name players in their ranks and maybe their most valuable asset is goalkeeper
With their two top scorers out for the fixture, the third player on that scoring chart is defenderCurtis Davies. He has notched up a tally of four goals in his twenty league appearances this season. The former England Under 21 international has had a wealth of Premier League experience with Birmingham City and fellow Midlands clubs Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion. His scoring record may be impressive, but Birmingham have not kept a clean sheet in ten fixtures and they will need Davies on form in his defensive role if that is to change on Tuesday afternoon.
Despite losing their two top scorers the Blues do still have attacking flare in their ranks. One player the Cardiff City faithful will know extremely well is former City favouriteChris Burke. He made one hundred and two appearances during his stint in the Welsh capital scoring fifteen goals. He has already matched his goal tally at Birmingham in significantly fewer games. On loan forwardRob HallandJake Jervismay start up front with Birmingham’s attacking crisis. Both are yet to score for their current club but with the service of players such as Burke that could all change.
Previous Meetings:Birmingham City have the superior record over the years when looking at the total number of wins; the Midlands side have defeated Cardiff on twenty-seven occasions compared to City's twenty-three victories. Only twelve of the sixty-two games have ended in a stalemate.
There have been seven meetings in the Championship since Birmingham returned to the second tier in 2007. Cardiff have three wins, Birmingham have two and no doubt both teams will be looking to add to that tally this week. The games have been close fought affairs with neither team scoring more than two goals in their last fifteen games.
Last Meeting: Cardiff City 2 – 1 Birmingham City (02/10/2012)
Cardiff recorded their fifth straight win at Cardiff City Stadium thanks to goals fromCraig BellamyandMark Hudson.
Bellamy had given City the lead on thirty-nine minutes whenPeter Whittinghamand Hudson combined to provide the striker with the chance to score. Birmingham then equalised after the break throughLeroy Litawhen he produced the finishing touch from a Wade Elliott delivery. City were only behind for three minutes when Hudson restored the lead on fifty-seven minutes showing his poaching abilities in the box after a Whittingham cross. The two goals proved to be enough on the night to take all three points.
Cardiff City line-up vs. Birmingham City: Lewis, Turner, Kiss, Conway, Velikonja.Subs not used:Marshall, McNaughton, Taylor, Hudson, Connolly, Whittingham, Noone (Kim), Gunnarsson, Mason, Helguson, Bellamy (Cowie).
Birmingham line-up: Doyle, Mullins, Ambrose, Zigic.Subs not used:Butland, Caldwell, Davies, Spector, Packwood (Hurst), Robinson, Burke, Elliott, Fahey, Lovenkrands (Redmond), Lita (King).